Lightroom Tutorial: How to Fix Bad Lighting
Photographing weddings could mean taking images in all sorts of venues and sometimes even venues with less than ideal lighting conditions. If you are shooting outdoors on a bright and sunny day, you may be able to balance out or fix bad lighting with off-camera lighting and reflectors. Low-light venues possess their own set of lighting challenges. But while you can only fix bad lighting in a venue to a certain point, Lightroom can help you with the rest of the modifications. You can save your images in the photo editing software by adjusting their highlights, shadow areas and correcting tints. In this blog, we show you how! 

Steps to Fix Bad Lighting in Lightroom

1. Adjust Exposure

Adjusting exposure using the exposure slider in Lightroom
Images courtesy of ShootDotEdit Customer Brian Bossany of

Open your image in Lightroom and start fixing the bad lighting by making adjustments to the exposure. Exposure means the amount of light falling on your camera sensor, so if there’s too much light around, your images could be over-exposed. And to fix that, you need to reduce exposure. To make adjustments, go to the Exposure slider in the Basic Panel of the Develop module and drag the slider to the left to decrease the exposure. To increase it, you can move the slider to the right. The changes will be non-destructive, so you will be able to make adjustments as many times as you want to get the desired look for your image.

2. Look For Clipped Highlights & Shadows

Clipped Highlights or Shadows are areas where details get lost due to under or overexposure. Underexposed images can have black areas or clipped Shadows, while overexposed images can result in white areas or clipped Highlights. The good news is that you can fix this in Lightroom. In the Basic Panel of the Develop module, you will see the Highlights and Shadows sliders. Move the Highlights slider to the left to decrease highlights in an overexposed image and bring back details. For underexposed areas of your image, move the Shadows slider to the right to do the same. You can also use the Whites and Blacks sliders to help Lightroom identify and interpret the brightest and darkest areas of your image and give you better results.

Related Read: Tutorial: How To Remove Shadows In Lightroom

3. Restore Contrast in Your Image

Infographic stating use the Contrast slider to enhance the colors in your image

While fixing the exposure, shadows, and highlights in your image, you might notice that the original contrast in your image doesn’t exist anymore. To bring it back and enhance the colors in your image, you can use the Contrast slider as an easy way to raise the contrast. If needed, you can also use it to lower the contrast in your image. Another way to adjust the contrast in your photo is by using the Tone Curve. The Tone Curve will help you decide the range of tones you want to modify (highlights, shadows, or mid-tones). In case of overexposed images, you can move the Highlights slider to the right and the Shadows slider to the left to bring back the contrast lost due to the adjustments made in the Basic Panel of the Develop Module. For under-exposed images, you can do the opposite. 

Suggested Read: How To Use The Tone Curve In Lightroom

4. Correct White Balance

Correcting white balance in Lightroom
Images courtesy of ShootDotEdit Customer Brian Bossany of

If you find your image looking too warm or too cool after the previous edits, you can fix this issue by correcting the white balance. There are two ways to do this. You can either adjust the Temperature and Tint sliders in the Color section of the Basic Panel or use the Eyedropper Tool. You will find this tool placed on the left, just above the Color sliders. Click on it and move it to a neutral spot or the white area in your image. As you move your mouse over an area, you will see a box pop up with the RGB color values mentioned in it. As you move your mouse, trying to find the best spot, you will be able to see the preview of your image in the Navigator Panel. Once you find the right spot, click on it, and Lightroom will fix the white balance of your image accordingly.

5. Reduce Noise & Bring Clarity

Infographic stating noise can make your images look hazy

If your images were shot in a dark venue or you didn’t have time to change the lens when you needed to, you might get grainy photos. Noise in your images can make them look hazy or just show up as specks of colors in shadow areas. You can get rid of noise with the help of the Noise Reduction slider found in the Details panel. You will see it underneath the Sharpening sliders. Also, in the Basic Panel, you can increase clarity to define the edges of objects in your image and add depth to your overall image. On the contrary, if you want a dreamy glow in your photo or soften the details, just reduce clarity.

Related Read: How To Reduce Noise In Lightroom

6. Use Radial Filter

To draw the viewer’s attention to the subjects in the image, you can choose to create a vignette effect around your subject using the Radial Filter. You will find it on the right side of the Develop Module below the histogram. By using it, you will create an elliptical mask and tell Lightroom if you want all your edits to be made inside of that mask or outside it. Adjusting the Exposure outside of the ellipse can help you create a vignette effect. You can easily change the shape and size of your filter by using pins outside of the ellipse.

Lightroom will also allow you to change the position of the radial filter on your image according to your preference. By default, all the adjustments you make will be applied outside of the ellipse, but you can checkmark the Invert Mask option in the Radial Filter if you want the opposite. To remove the changes you made, go to the Brush option at the top of the tool panel. This will open a new brush section. You will see the Brush would be set to Add the effect. However, if you want to remove it, select the Erase option.

Further Read: How To Use The Gradient Filter In Lightroom: Tips & Tricks

Final result image demonstrating a perfect exposure after fixing bad lighting in Lightroom
Images courtesy of ShootDotEdit Customer Brian Bossany of

Light is one of the many factors that help you create stunning photographs. But when you find yourself shooting in low-light venues, using Lightroom tools could help you fix photos that are over or underexposed. As a wedding photographer, you have to be prepared to shoot in all kinds of lighting situations, making it essential for you to know how to fix bad lighting during the post-production process. If you want more tips on image editing, you can check out our other blogs

At ShootDotEdit, we love sharing tips that help you hone your photography skills. We are also passionate about helping you dedicate more time to doing things you love, and to reduce your post-production workload, we offer professional photo editing services that match your style. To learn more about our services, you can take a look at our pricing plans.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published